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Canon FD Lenses: Great value or just cheap?!

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by Nate8833, Jul 23, 2012.

  1. Nate8833

    Nate8833 Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 23, 2012

    I just started attaching a couple of old manual focus Nikon lenses to my GX1. I have to say, I love shooting with adapted lenses! The process really feels a lot more interesting to me. Anyway, I noticed that the Canon FD lenses are quite cheap! I know nothing about them, so I was hopeful that someone who has shot with them could tell me two things:

    Are these lenses just cheap (bad performance), or are they so plentiful that there is just too much supply to ask for what they are worth?

    Which are the best Canon FD lenses, and which are the ones to avoid? Thanks!!
  2. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    The Canon FD lenses I've acquired for m4/3 adaptation have been quite excellent and great value:

    FD new 50/1.4
    FD 135/2.8
  3. c5karl

    c5karl Mu-43 Regular

    May 31, 2011
    Fairfax, Va., USA
    They're more affordable than some other brands, because they're not compatible with modern Canon bodies. When Canon designed their first autofocus cameras, they decided to make a clean break and to design a new, incompatible mount (unlike Nikon, Pentax and others, who retrofitted their existing mounts). Canon sold a lot FD mount cameras in the 70s and 80s, so there are a lot of FD lenses out there, and none of them can be used on any digital camera without an adapter. So supply outstrips demand.
  4. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    I'm not really sure why the Canon FD lenses are so cheap relative to some other brands (e.g. Nikon and Olympus OM), but I don't believe it's due to lack of quality. I suspect that Canon just sold a lot more lenses than the others so the pricing is just a matter of a larger supply chasing a similar demand.

    If you're looking for a macro lens the Canon Macro 50mm f/3.5 is a really nice choice.
  5. The Minimalist

    The Minimalist Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 19, 2011
    I have a 1970's Canon FD50 f1/8 which was the basic kit lens in it's day. I got it on ebay less than what the adaptor that I purchased for it. Here's one picture I took with it.

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    Check out the pictures taken with various Canon FD lenses in the "Adapted Lens Sample Image Archive".
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  6. Nate8833

    Nate8833 Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 23, 2012

    Thanks for all of the answers guys! I really appreciate it. It makes total sense that they would be cheap considering the newer DSLRs cant focus the lenses. That's a great deal for MFT owners though!

    I'm definitely interested in the 50mm 1.4 to start. I already have the Nikon 1.8 that I've been using (I wonder how this compares to the Canon 1.8?), but I wanted to go to a 1.4 and the Canon is much cheaper. Anyone happily using this lens? DHart... How is the 50mm 1.4 wide open?

    Thanks again!
  7. fin azvandi

    fin azvandi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 12, 2011
    South Bend, IN
    Other brands/manufacturers made lenses in the Canon FD mount as well, if you're looking at legacy lenses online or in the thrift store. For example, my Kiron 105/2.8 Macro is an FD mount version, you can also find it for Nikon, Pentax, etc.
  8. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Tested against my Zeiss Planar 50/1.4, the Canon was nearly as good as the Zeiss wide open, and when stopped down to f/2.8, I'd say they were close enough to call comparable. Color rendition on the Canon was slightly cooler than the Zeiss, but that is very easily dialed wherever you like it in LR. The Canon 50/1.4 makes an awesome, economical portrait lens on m4/3, if you don't mind manual focusing.
  9. JudyM

    JudyM Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 5, 2010
    Westminster, MD
    I own three:

    100-300mm f5.6 L
    35-105 f3.5 macro
    50mm f3.5 macro

    The 100-300mm is the most expensive FD lens I own and is my least favorite. I don't know if it's a characteristic of this lens or if it's just my copy, but I can see purple fringes. The focusing ring is very loose, making it touchy to focus. The zoom creeps badly, meaning it zooms in and out under its own weight when you tilt it up and down. Sharpness isn't that bad, assuming it stays put once I get it in focus.
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    The 35-105 macro is a great lens for a bargain price. I paid $39 for mine (beware though, the caps and hood will cost more than the lens). It's not an "L" series lens, but not all of Canon's best lenses are "L" series. It's big and heavy, so it's not one I'd want to carry in my bag all day.

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    Saving the best for last, the 50mm macro is one of my two favorite lenses, and it's available at bargain prices. I got mine for $69 (without extension tube) from a local seller on Ebay and it's virtually new. It's lightweight, razor sharp and compact. This is one lens that's always in my bag (if it's not on the camera). The image of the lens below shows it with the extension tube mounted. The downsized image of the redbud doesn't do the lens justice, but it was one I already had uploaded. If you look at my posts under the Flowers thread, you'll see that this is the lens I use 90% of the time.

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  10. zap

    zap Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 23, 2012
    nice shots... will go to london tomorrow to look for FD lenses...:smile:
  11. Brian S

    Brian S Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 11, 2009
    The FD lenses are every bit as good as the Nikkors of the day, the 50/1.4 SSC was a bit better. I prefer the build quality of the FD lenses with the breech-lock mount. The FL series lenses are also quite good.

    These lenses were "orphaned" by Canon, when they moved to the AF mount. Mirrorless cameras gave them new life. Get them while they remain cheap.
  12. Nate8833

    Nate8833 Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 23, 2012
    Great to hear about the Canon 50mm 1.4... I just found one with a Canon A1!
  13. x2800m

    x2800m New to Mu-43

    Nov 17, 2011
    Canon FD lenses are alot of fun. As others have mentioned, they generally perform better when stopped down a bit. The 50mm f/1.8 used to be my favorite lens prior to my acquisition of an Oly 45mm f/1.8. The optical performance is good and the build and feel of the thing is one the things I really like.

    With the 50:
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    With a 100-300FD:
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    The 100-300 f/5.6 is also my least used lens, the focus mechanism is smooth, but as others have mentioned the zoom mechanism can creep when at extreme angles, for me this generally occurs at angles greater than 63 degrees but the creep is very slow. I guess it boils down to which lens you get. I've generally had good luck with FDs but one of the examples that I had acquired exhibited substantial backlash in the focusing mechanism. Disassembling the lens showed that the problem was caused by the dry rotting of the rubber boots that grip the channels responsible for guiding the lens carrier. The lens was otherwise ok, the lens elements were clear, and the aperture worked flawlessly, but the focusing thing just annoyed me. Nevertheless, with a personal success rate of 80% during lens acquisitions, I think the Canon FD line to be a great way to play around with some lenses without breaking the bank.
    • Like Like x 2
  14. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    It's a fact that some lenses which were stella performers with film are strangely inept with digital. This applies to all brands, not just Canon by any means. In fact, Canon FD lenses were generally excellent by any standard - just don't assume that every one of them will translate well to digital. However, they are so cheap that there is little to lose, a lot of fun to be had and some very pleasant surprises.
  15. santiclaws

    santiclaws Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 2, 2012
    Same story with the Minolta MD lenses - Minolta abandoned the mount when they started producing AF bodies. Not sure how they compare price wise to the FD Canons.
  16. JudyM

    JudyM Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 5, 2010
    Westminster, MD
    I'm not sure I understand your reply to my post. If my mention of purple fringing somehow gave the impression that these lenses are inept, I apologize. Some purple fringing is present, but visible only under magnification. The lens is really quite good optically, which I had hoped the sample photo would show.

    Mechanically, I think the lens could be better, but then I'm comparing it to my 17 year old Zeiss, which focuses smoothly and precisely, and the zoom stays where you put it. The 100-300mm was my first FD lens, and its few flaws were not enough to deter me from buying the others. All three are worth what I paid. The 50mm would still be a jewel at three times the amount.
  17. danska

    danska Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 21, 2012
    Portland, OR
    Some Minolta lenses are great deals. Many of them are quite expensive though. I'd say on average most of the Minolta primes I have are worth more on the market right now than the Canon glass I've seen.
  18. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    I rather got the impression that the purple fringing was significant as you seemed to mention it as a main characteristic. That certainly would match my experience with a 300mm Nikkor, which fringed badly in high contrast light. At other times it was superb, and tack sharp when I managed to focus it correctly. This "flaw" almost certainly would not have been present when using it with a 35mm film SLR for which it was designed. I'm glad to hear that your lens has somewhat less of a fringing issue! :smile:
  19. wanderenvy

    wanderenvy Mu-43 Regular

    May 11, 2012
    I have the Canon FD 50/3.5 macro and the FD 100/2.8. The 50mm competes for space on my E-M5 with the PL25, it's that good. Works well as a macro and as a normal walkabout 50mm lens.

    I haven't compared it to the regular 50mm 1.4/1.8 so can't speak in relative terms.

    Somehow, I haven't found as much use for the 100mm.

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  20. Shutterdad

    Shutterdad Mu-43 Regular

    May 23, 2012
    Big D
    I'm looking forward to purchasing an adapter for this mount to play around with. Now I'm glad that I never sold my AE1 with the lenses that I bought.
    • Funny Funny x 1
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